Disaster Response in Cook County
Cook County has been a disaster hub since time immemorial. The county has constantly had to deal with issue of flooding when the rains are present. Cook County is not new to flooding, however, each time it occurs it is a disaster worth national intervention. This means that every season circle presents Cook County with a new phase of looming disaster (Remo, Pinter, & Mahgoub, 2016)r. The fact that at no point can the county be sure how much rain will fall when it eventually happens always presents the disaster response team with the possibility of being overwhelmed. The county is like to face bigger flood occurrences as the meteorological departments have been declaring that larger chunks of land will be susceptible to floods. The cause of excessive flooding in Cook County is made worse by the fact that the flood water reservoirs often fill up and the excess water spills contributing to the flood situation (Moore, 2013). This has been the case for close to three decades seeing that between 1991 and 2013, there has been a declaration of 11 disasters. All 11 disasters have been flood disasters.
It is important to understand that when floods hit a county like Cook County, people are rendered homeless, hungry and exposed to diseases as well as other security concerns. Cook County was recently declared a disaster prone region by the governor (Daily Herald, 2017). This is not good news for the residents as they have to always be ready to move from their home when the rains begin. It is a destabilizing situation for people who have known no other home apart from Cook County.
The declaration of Cook County as a disaster prone region opens up the County to aid by the Federal Government in terms of resources and funding to ensure that the flood victims are secured and do not develop health complications during the flooding periods. The declaration of a disaster prone area makes it easier for the residents to get help form the government in terms of aid and improvement of the preventive measures. In this case, the residents of Cook County can now be given sand bags to break the intensity of the moving water when it floods. This makes it easier for people to move to safer ground as opposed to when the water is moving uninhibited by anything. This is just one of the benefits of the County being put on the list of the disaster prone areas (Chang, 2018). The Cook County government can be proactive in encouraging the residents who can afford it to move to places where floods do not cause much destruction. In further preparing for the eventuality of floods, the residents of Cook County must be trained on how to survive the floods by moving to safer grounds once they are informed about impending rain. This will make it easier for the government to deliver relief and treatment where necessary.
The government will have in place a body that will be responsible to respond when the floods strike. This will be easily done by the government training a disaster response team. The county has its own disaster response team but due to limited resources, the input by the federal government will be highly appreciated. The global warming factor does not make it any better for Cook County to deal with disasters. This is because the weather becomes unstable and more areas are exposed to disasters. It will be prudent for the federal government to provide more funds and resources to the disaster response kitty as the years go by.
Objectives and Exercises
The objectives for developing disaster management and response teams are; to save life, protect property and ensure that the health of the members of Cook County is safe guarded. The objective of saving life in times of floods is to evacuate all the victims promptly and take them to dry areas. This can pose a challenge where the people are stuck in a storey building, which are many in the modern day United States, which is at risk of collapsing under the forces of water. This is because, the people trapped in such a building are at risk of being swept away by floods while at the same time, they are at risk of the building caving in and burying them alive. In such circumstances, even the rescue teams are at risk of being killed in the line of duty. Therefore, early evacuation is the best way to avoid the damage that this scenario would present Cook County.
The pre-exercise phase on this objective is the education of the masses on how to survive a flood. This is done by massive public education sessions. The members of the public will also be part of the process by suggesting and establishing assembly points where the rescue teams can easily access them and save many people at the same time.
When the flood finally occurs, the members of the public will be required to get to the rescue assembly points. This is the point where the public education effectiveness will be tested. This part will make it easy for the rescue teams to get access and rescue the people who may have been trapped in buildings or cars. They will not be many in this case.
This part of the process will be a stock taking session where the rescue mission will be evaluated for effectiveness or failure and improved as necessary,
The second objective is to protect and safeguard property. In this instance, the construction laws in Cook County must be adjusted to factor in floods. This means making buildings with stronger foundations and discouraging people from occupying ground floor spaces for commercial and residential purposes. This will ensure that in the vent that evacuation is not quick enough to save the lives of people affected by the floods, they can stay dry until relief comes to them. The authorities, the federal and local governments, should take the responsibility of ensuring that the dams have the capacity to collect flood water efficiently. In the case where the banks of the dams break, the government has to find a way of releasing the excess water controllably (Houghton & Castillo-Salgado, 2017). This can entail directing the water to a river or lake that will find its way to an ocean. This will protect a lot of property from destruction by moving water.
The building plans will have to be approved by the authorities. The plans will also have to incorporate detailed descriptions of how the building is being put together.
During the floods, no building that was approved by the authorities is expected to collapse due to floods unless the force of the water is greater than anticipated. This will reduce the costs of repairing the buildings post-floods.
The owners of buildings which collapse during the floods will be charged with putting up buildings that are below standards unless they were compliant and the flood exceeded the strength of their buildings.
The third objective to safeguard the health of the members of Cook County. The water borne diseases have to be prevented from spread by giving vaccinations well in advance. The water that flows as a result of floods exposes the citizens of Cook County to tetanus infections. Along with tetanus, the citizens can also develop other conditions like poisoning for consuming food and water that is contaminated. All these are factors that Cook County has to deal with after a flood disaster has struck. This is a challenge to the departments that are charged with securing the health of the residents as they cannot prevent the whole population from getting in contact with flood water or consuming contaminated food and water. The objective of preparing for the health hazard is to educate the masses on how to handle the flood water and food items during a flood period.
Educate people on the dangers of coming into contact with flood water. The members of the public should be given tetanus vaccines annually. This will ensure that the health facilities have one less problem to deal with when floods occur.
The members of the public are expected to maintain high hygiene standards during the floods. This entails have sanitizers at hand and avoiding consuming food and water that has not been treated during and after the flood period.
The members of the public are expected to drain all wells and food storage like freezers and fridges. This is for the purpose of eliminating any chance of diseases caused by contaminated food and water.
Chang, K. (2018). Exploring the Dynamics of Local Emergency Management Collaboration in the United States- What we Learned from Florida County and City Emergency Managers’ Viewpoints. EurAmerica, 1-71: http://web.b.ebscohost.com/abstract?direct=true&profile=ehost&scope=site&authtype=crawler&jrnl=10213058&AN=128833697&h=WGJ6CfsTCOb3Rgu7xeGWKzlOKHrOrS2MkjkSelkIE2ImfAUm%2fo8EzJFTJhiSHlD8XZUMg1hbKtGiEsbK2i7ULg%3d%3d&crl=c&resultNs=AdminWebAuth&resultLocal=ErrCrlNotAuth&crlhashurl=login.aspx%3fdirect%3dtrue%26profile%3dehost%26scope%3dsite%26authtype%3dcrawler%26jrnl%3d10213058%26AN%3d128833697
Daily Herald. (2017, July 17). Governor Declares Cook County a Disaster Area. Retrieved from Daily Herald: www.dailyherald.com/amp-article/20170716/news/170719343/
Houghton, A., & Castillo-Salgado, C. (2017). Health Co-Benefits of Green Building Design Strategies and Community Resilience to Urbn Flooding: A Systematic Review of the Evidence. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, doi.10.3390/ijerph14121519.
Moore, R. (2013, November 05). Illinois Must Look Ahead to Anticipate Natural Disasters, not Backwards. Retrieved from NRDC: www.nrdc.org/experts/rob-moore/illinois-must-look-ahead-anticipate-natural-disasters-not-backwards
Remo, J. W., Pinter, N., & Mahgoub, M. (2016). Assessing Illinois’s Flood Vulnerability using Hazus-MH. Natural Hazards, 265-287: link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11069-015-2077-z
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